My friend Noelle warned me Leah would have a princess phase. She said her daughter Chase spent three months insisting on princess dresses every day.
Noelle was right. Leah is heavy into the princess thing right now. It hasn’t kept us from playing barbies, it has caused us to play barbies in a particularly princess-y way.
Today might have been a kind of “pinnacle of princess play”.
Princesses from all over the world came together in our Barbieland to meet and solve the world’s problems.
Leah wanted Bella to be in charge but I told her that women tend to rule in more collaborative ways and that means there is no boss. Only facilitators and voting.
I explained to her that Bella, as facilitator, would likely call the meeting to order. She would not boss everyone around and tell them “what’s what”. Instead she should ask each princess to speak in turn. Then, when everyone had had their chance to talk about problems and solutions, the group could vote on different solutions. When Leah is older I can actually start to introduce her to the basics of Parliamentary Procedure using barbie scenarios.
Since Leah is only 4 1/2 I had the princesses talk about lack of rain and other “simple” problems. As Leah gets older I believe I can introduce more complex geopolitical topics and let her try her hand at proposing solutions to world hunger and regional conflicts. She can have her ladies weigh in on trade policies like restrictions and tariffs, immigration policy, disaster relief — you know, the kind of stuff every pre-teen girl is asked to ponder.
Anyway, back to the fabulous princess ladies and their meeting.
We have such a beautiful variety of princesses and a few are collector dolls that we keep in full regalia at all times. But you can make a princess council out a few dolls and few random dresses. In fact, as long as you have at least two dolls, you’ve got a council. And if you can get your barbégé to agree that they are princesses (regardless of their clothing) then you have a princess council.
Also, our royal roundtable is made of a pillar candle pedestal (these come in a wide variety) and a wooden “sign.”
The pillar candle pedestals are usually about 4 inches tall and a little more than 3 inches across the top. Search the web using “pillar candle holder” in your search terms and you will see that there are many available. You can use them alone as occaisional tables or put a wooden placard from a craft store on top to form a formal dining or meeting table.
Craft stores also sell markers that look like woodstain so Leah and I just bought a dark wood colored marker from Micheals and colored the placard to match the pillar pedestal. It comes close enough to matching the base and the table is great for big parties and international princess meetings.
If you don’t have a table just have them sit in a circle on the floor.
Disney is currently selling Princess Accessory sets at 2 for $20. We don’t use the Disney dolls because their heads are too big and the characters too restrictive. Then again, it is easy to take the accessory and wardrobe sets and have a Core Player become a Disney princess for a particular scenario. We bought accessory/wardrobe sets from the local Disney store recently – which is why we were able to dress a Barbie Basics Asian (rebodied with a Liv Body) in a Mulan dress.
Also, just because we dressed an Asian doll as Mulan, doesn’t mean we always stick to ethnic typing. We often use dark-skinned dolls in Cinderella’s dress or Belle’s dress and call them “Cinderella” – we don’t say “Black Cinderella.” Especially if, for example, your child is Asian, have Asian dolls dressed as Tiana, Ariel, Mulan, or any other character she is fascinated with. You’ll see eyes light up when you do this.
REMEMBER AS ALWAYS to be open to your barbégé’s creativity. Just because you have decided to play a certain scenario doesn’t mean you have to stick to it in any formal way. Play is about developing your barbégé’s trust in her/his own judgement as well. When Leah decided one of the princesses was also a fairy who would use her magic to help solve some of the world’s problems, I didn’t suggest that magic and fairies were “out of bounds”. When Leah wanted to them to have books instead of laptops (as I had suggested) I praised the idea. When she wanted to have a monkey on the table serving the ladies water, I held my toungue about germs. When she wanted Bella to have a guitar I led the council in an “call to order sing along” of “Heal the World”.
Heal the world…
Make it a better place.
For you and for me
and for the entire human race…
(GOSH THIS MAKES ME MISS MJ)